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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
PG
Cast
Timothy Dalton
Maryam d'Abo
Jeroen Krabbe
Joe Don Baker
John Rhys-Davies
Art Malik.
Directors
John Glen.
Screenwriters
Richard Maibaum
Michael G Wilson.
Running Time
130 minutes

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The Living Daylights
Timothy Dalton and the KGB have trouble figuring out who's on who's side.


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Plot
James Bond refuses to kill sniper Kara Milovy while assisting in the defection of KGB General Koskov. Koskov plays a complex triple-cross involving an arms deal and Afghan heroin.


Review

After the fizzle of the later Roger Moore Bonds, The Living Daylights brings in a new 007 in Timothy Dalton, who manages the Connery trick of seeming suave and tough at the same time, and tried to get away from the weak comedy in favour of proper international intrigue. 
 
The sledging-in-a-cello case escape is a typical Moore stunt, and Dalton is visibly embarrassed by the punchline (‘nothing to declare’), but the film offers a decent, fresh storyline as opposed to a warmed-over remake of Dr No.  The plot nugget, Bond’s refusal to kill a beautiful sniper, comes from the Fleming short story, and the major complication has to do with a bogus revival of Smiert Spionom aka SMERSH (‘a Beria operation’, snorts all-purpose foreigner John Rhys-Davies, here a Soviet General).  Breaking with mad zillionaires and fantasy geopolitics, the film is set in a realworld 1987 where the USSR is rift with internal dissent and bogged down in Afghanistan.  The series’ first American master villain (Joe Don Baker’s Brad Whittaker) is a flamboyant but credible international arms dealer, and Bond’s most complicated opponent (Jeroen Krabbe’s Koskov) is a jolly, treacherous, triple-dealing KGB man left alive at the end for a rematch which sadly never came. 
 
With former second-unit director John Glen still in charge, it has more than enough set-pieces to keep in the action game: the assault of a killer milkman, a close-quarters fight in a rickety aeroplane with a bomb aboard, a one-on-one between Bond’s old-fashioned Walther and Whittaker’s array of high-tech gadgets.
 
 A-ha’s theme is, at least, better than Duran Duran’s View to a Kill.


Verdict
Timothy Dalton heralded a Bond era that tried to move away from the campness of Roger Moore's reign and more into the stunt-laden thriller genre.


Reviewed by Kim Newman

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for The Living Daylights
Empire Star Rating

Dalton's stronger film

TLD was Dalton's stronger of the two movies he did. LTK for me tipped too far into the more serious formula that it in some way makes it into a not-quite Die Hard. The running and bothersome problem I notice with these supposedly 80s Bond films, I say 'supposedly' because the camerawork on these films lack depth and are essentially dreary and flat, a shame considering the good material here. The photography of GoldenEye was miles better that it almost sheds any memory or reference to these f... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by bedraggledfox at 19:11, 20 June 2010 | Report This Post


The living daylights.

I find it strange that the last few roger moore films were critised for been OTT camp and when a change was made with a serious timothy dalton they were greeted with the same hostility, anyway dalton makes a cracking debut and should have gone on to make 4 or 5 films on the strength of this , edgy yet still with that touch of bond magic - RE - empire, there is NO WAY that aha's song is better then duran durans. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by paulandnic14 at 22:28, 01 February 2010 | Report This Post


The Living Daylights

Dalton proved himself to be a fantastic Bond in this film. He was the best since Connery left the franchise. In this one Bond is more dark and gritty, more reaslistic. Dalton's performance is great and is my thrid favourite Bond actor. Unfortunatly he doesn't have much to work on. The plot takes so many turns that it sometimes gets lost and Dalton does all he can to pick up the pieces. His supporting cast is not very strong so he really shines in this movie. The Bond girl does get a bit irratati... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Bond at 15:30, 12 May 2007 | Report This Post


RE: Living Daylights, The

if only dalton was given more time i think he would have been the best, not to say living daylights isn't any good, it so is. the fight scene on the plane, awesome. not that it didn't have its bad points (cello). definalty up there in the top 5 of best bond films, it's underatted but i think it will get more appreciated with age. and also probably the last good bond song (what's this chris cornell and 'you know my name', yes i do mate and i'm also trying you find out were you live). ... More

Posted by Evil.Groovy.Ash at 02:44, 16 November 2006 | Report This Post


RE: the Living Daylights

L: darth silas  actually,the close ups of bond and necros fighting at the back of the plane have very poor backgrounds that look like cardboard! it really looks daft! ell either way, i think you're supposed to concentrate more on the fight scene than  the alleged 'hokey' cardboard scenery ... More

Posted by Emyr Thy King at 00:58, 16 November 2006 | Report This Post


RE: the Living Daylights

L: Bulletproof_Monk My favourite Bond film. Dalton is brilliant, he should have done more than the two films. Love the plane fight at the end, you wouldn't get two blokes y hanging out of a plane fighting y's cinema. ly,the close ups of bond and necros fighting at the back of the plane have very poor backgrounds that look like cardboard! it really looks daft! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by darth silas at 12:53, 15 November 2006 | Report This Post


RE: the Living Daylights

My favourite Bond film. Dalton is brilliant, he should have done more than the two films.   Love the plane fight at the end, you wouldn't get two blokes y hanging out of a plane fighting y's cinema. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Bulletproof_Monk at 11:23, 15 November 2006 | Report This Post


RE: the Living Daylights

Easily the best incarnation of Bond IMO. Timothy Dalton is such an excellent actor (just check out Possessed) and brought so much to the role. I think he was truly the anchor that stabilised Bond and made up for the jiggery hockery of Roger Moore's portrayal. The good thing with Dalton's turn as Bond is even though he only made two Bond films (big shame), they were both distinct from each other and showed good range in what he could do. Personally i favour Licence to Kill but The Living Da... More

Posted by Emyr Thy King at 22:38, 10 November 2006 | Report This Post


the Living Daylights

For me the best Bond is Mr Dalton.He is as close to the literary Bond as you can get and also the best on screen Bond having more edge and character than even Sir Sean. I will agree there are one liners that don't suit but bear in mind this was written for Sir Roger before he hung up his Walther. Overall a powerhouse performance and a story you could actually believe while still having all the Bond elements.Glad to read in the new Bond issue that somebody at Empire has recognised that Dalton &qu... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by boostergold at 07:59, 04 November 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Living Daylights, The

One of the more gritty and realistic bond movies. Dalton was a very believable secret agent, and there are some great set pieces. Awesome soundtrack as well. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by KnightofZyryab at 15:25, 21 October 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Living Daylights, The

Dalton is definately underrated as Bond - he was a tough bastard but good the suave bit as good as any Bond. The Living Daylights wasn't a bad movie IMO ... More

Posted by Fluke Skywalker at 14:44, 21 October 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Living Daylights, The

IMO - Dalton was the best Bond, in relation to how he is written in Fleming's novels.   Alongside OHMSS, The Living Daylights is my fave Bond film.   The assassin with the exploding milk bottles at the country house is superb. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by JIm R at 11:26, 21 October 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Living Daylights, The

Dalton's films were quality. Tough. Brutal in places. Bond was a human being.   ... More

Posted by Joe Buck at 01:22, 21 October 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Living Daylights, The

Watched this again recently and enjoyed it a lot.  Most people hate it and say its crap but i think Dalton was great as 007.  But have to agree that the plot does hold it back a little and the desert scene are a push to far for it, it would have been better staying in Europe.  Good Bond film though and a great intro pre-credit sequence for Dalton. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by goldleader at 18:33, 19 October 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Living Daylights, The

I actually thought Timothy Dalton was quite impressive in his debut as James Bond. John Glen´s direction is skilled also,the action sequences and set-pieces are good,but ultimately I dont really appreciate this entry in the series,it suffers from overlength and a lumbering story. I think Dalton´s second turn as Bond,License To Kill,was much better. ... More

Posted by Kazuya at 22:04, 18 October 2006 | Report This Post


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